I know 3pm is a wee bit too early to be thinking of whisky, but Adam Park's beautiful documentary has me looking forward to a dram. His new documentary, funded partly through kickstarter, made its debut in January 2019 and was subsequently nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Not without reason, The Amber Light features all things inherent to Scottish culture and how these have been hued in the colours of its beloved national drink.
A collaboration between renowned Glaswegian spirits writer Dave Broom and online food & drinks magazine The Gannet, the film takes us past various famed whisky-locations and distilleries, and allows us to meet the distillers, writers, musicians, artists and like-minded filmmakers who are all bound together through a shared love of scotch(land). While we travel with Dave Broom from Glasgow to remote Islay, Elgin, Fife and Edinburgh we learn more of the history of whisky and its status in Scotland. The different roles whisky has played within the communities throughout Scotland and that its taste quite literally reflects the land on which it is made. Treasured by many, the taste of whisky comes alive in the regions in which it is born, its smell awakens memories of family and community in many a Scotsman.
The intricate chemistry of whisky distilling is brought back to its roots and origins: the pursuit of uisge beathe or aqua vitae. With a few modest ingredients, clear running water, a (preferably hidden) distilling apparatus and a lot of patience, anyone can set up their own whisky supply. To be drank at ceilidh's, shared with your neighbours or gifted to a beloved friend. Whisky culture is above all a human culture, musicians, chefs and even renown crime thriller writer Ian Rankin share their personal histories, memories, and relationships with whisky. Together with the beautiful photography shot by Dan Dennison and Dulani Wilson's storyboard animations, the bright vibrant colours paint a cheerful yet serene picture of overall Scottish culture.
The Amber Light shows that Scotch is (and has always been) a cultural product, part of a ‘cultural terroir’. If you're feeling homesick for your roots by now, why not order a 'local barley juice' at your local pub tonight?
The Amber Light is in cinemas now. Cameo have a special screening on 25 November 2019, including a Q&A with the director and a whisky-tasting.
Reviewed as Film of the Week, in partnership with Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh.